Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Create Synergistic Success
For a change intervention to succeed, the new actions and behaviors needed for success must be centralized around a unified goal. Intentional change in organizations happens for a multitude of reasons, to save money, to reduce strain on resources, to better manage workload, to update technology or other compete in the industry. But if there isn't a clear understanding of exactly where we are going and why this is group or synergistic success, implementation can be fraught with workarounds, false starts, and outright sabotage.
Ideally an organization has a vision, mission, and purpose around which all activities revolve. To reach a unified sense of meaning behind a change, an organization seeking change must influence its internal and external stakeholders by excavating their common values. By helping diverse stakeholders understand that their work together results in the accomplishment of a unified goal, you reach that all important win-win, or what I call Synergistic Success.
If we ignore the human side of change and fail to create an environment for synergistic success, complex change efforts cannot succeed.
When trying to understand a process, we tend to work with mental models that we can return to time and time again. Many project methods provide step by step processes that help to create a framework upon which to build our planning strategies, but often in the real world of applying methodology, implementing interventions is not always so simple or straight forward.
When I am talking to teams about the change process, I stress that after all the stakeholder engagement, current state and data collection, gap and solution identification, implementation is our biggest mountain. And oddly, that is often when the project team starts looking toward the next initiative and can leave implementation to operations.
IMPLEMENTATION IS YOUR BIGGEST MOUNTAIN
In my experience, the project manager or change team must remain vigilant and present through implementation. Russell Korte, Associate Professor at George Washington University stresses how important it is to consider implementation as unpredictable, to expect challenges, and rather than depending upon a static plan, and to consider implementation to be in a continual state of planning. Implementation is very complicated and that in reality, until all is said and done, we don't truly know what the best solution is and we must set aside the idea that there is a right answer.
Korte encourages us to do a lot of experimenting and expect a lot of failures. He encourages us to use Effectual Thinking, accepting that we can't predict the future and that we don't always know what the outcome will be.
He stresses that implementation is messy and that through the process the change team may go from Outcome A to Outcome B and finally end up with Outcome C, and that there will always be variation between what you expect, and where you land.
Preparing for the Journey
Factors such as changing organizational priorities, limited resources, lack of executive support, and natural resistance to change can derail an implementation strategy. And so it's important to ensure that to the greatest degree possible there is and executive champion, strong stakeholder engagement, that changes are not top down, and that the organization appreciates the concept of continuous improvement (Korte, 2015).
So in reality, implementation can take far longer than anticipated. And it can be a ride down a road full of unexpected turns and unforeseen barriers. I've found, in preparing for the unexpected, it can help to cultivate passion and resilience in your team, to build a risk management plan early, and to ensure the project team stays fully engaged throughout implementation. And, by intentionally seeking and solidifying with stakeholders their shared purpose and common needs, you can with much courage, fortitude, forgiveness, gratitude, and sheer tenacity plant a flag of synergistic success at the top of the implementation mountain.
Korte, R. (2015). EDOD 673 Implementing Interventions. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTt8kRuD_r4&list=PLU3_WaAMh8LEEYCt-Rozx6KSh_gcvHQYR&index=4